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Incumbent Asa Hutchinson endorses Sarah Sanders' bid for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaking to a crowd of several hundred people on Sept. 6 during a rally in Benton.
Michael Hibblen
Republican candidate for governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, seen here speaking at a rally in Benton on Sept. 6, has received the endorsements of key party officeholders this week, including Gov. Asa Hutchinson. It comes after her only Republican opponent, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, dropped out of the race Tuesday to run for lieutenant governor.

Gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders received endorsements from fellow Arkansas Republicans on Friday, including Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Hutchinson is prevented from running for reelection due to term limits. He announced his support for Sanders in a statement, saying “I’ve known Sarah Huckabee Sanders most of her life and know firsthand her love for our state and her heart for public service. Sarah has earned the Republican nomination and I’m delighted today to endorse her for Governor. The state of Arkansas will be in good hands with Sarah as Governor, and she has my full support.”

This endorsement comes just three days after Attorney General Leslie Rutledge dropped out of the governor’s race and announced she would be running for lieutenant governor, leaving Sanders as the only candidate in the Republican primary. She has been considered the frontrunner since announcing her candidacy on Jan. 25, largely because of the support President Donald Trump received in the state and her role serving as White House Press Secretary.

Sanders responded to Hutchinson's announcement by saying in a statement, “I am honored to have the endorsement and full support of Governor Hutchinson. I am thankful for his leadership lowering taxes and laying the foundation for future growth and prosperity. As governor, I will continue... his work to lower and phase out the state income tax and unleash bold, conservative reforms that will create opportunity for all Arkansans.”

The governor is not the only Arkansas Republican politician to offer his support for Sanders. On Wednesday, U.S. senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton offered their endorsement, saying she “will be an outstanding governor for Arkansas.”

On Friday, Sanders also earned the backing of Arkansas’ members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The four Republicans, Rick Crawford, Steve Womack, French Hill and Bruce Westerman, endorsed Sanders in a collaborative statement.

“We are proud to endorse Sarah Huckabee Sanders for governor of Arkansas. We know she is the right leader for our state, and it is time for Republicans to come together so we can move forward in our fight for a stronger Arkansas and a stronger America,” the statement said.

Sanders is one of six candidates remaining in the race. She is up against several Democratic candidates; Anthony Bland, a business teacher with the Little Rock School District, Dr. Chris Jones, former executive director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, entrepreneur Supha Xayprasith-Mays, and James “Rus” Russell, a small business owner. Also running as a Libertarian is Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr.

Arkansas’ General Election is set to be held on Nov. 8 of next year and the winner is scheduled to be sworn in on Jan. 10, 2023.